Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and Marben Farms Public Fishing Area are a Special Treat

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By Alvin  Richardson

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You don’t need an expensive bass boat and a lot of fancy equipment to be part of the modern day bass fishing set.  You don’t have to put up with the ripping and roaring of 150 horsepower motors that send out wakes measuring 8.2 on the Richter Scale.  All you need is a john boat, trolling motor and a few basic lures to catch your share of the highly prized largemouth bass.  If fishing from the comfort of a chair on the bank is your idea of heaven that is available also.  As a bonus, you can accomplish this feat in relative seclusion and in a beautiful, serene environment.  Such a place can be found nearby within the stunning acres of the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center / Marben Farms Public Fishing Area in the edge of Newton County.

Here’s the scoop for those of you who long for such a place.

Getting There

From I-20 west take exit 98 and go south on Highway 11 for 9.5 miles and turn left into the entrance.  From Monroe take Highway 11 south until you cross I-20 and continue 9.5 miles to the entrance on the left.

Fishing Opportunities

Marben Farms PFA currently has 16 lakes open to the public.  They range in size from one acre Teal Lake (a catch and release pond for anglers 16 and under) all the way up to 95 acre Fox Lake.  Most of the ponds are stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, red-ear sunfish (shellcrackers) and about half of the lakes have black crappie.  Lake Bennett (69 acres) also has hybrid bass.  Several of the lakes have excellent boat ramps from which to launch and several have easy walking access around them to accommodate the bank fisherman.

Tips From the Experts

David Wade of Loganville is an experienced fisherman at Marben Farms.  He was kind enough to pass along some things he has learned about the lakes themselves and some helpful hints on how to catch fish at this location.  Wade tells us, “Due to the clarity of these ponds grass beds and underwater vegetation is present throughout.  One thing to remember is that grass is your friend.  Most of the lakes also have an abundance of standing timber and / or stumps present.  Spring and early summer bass fishing is excellent at all the lakes.  Presently bass are staging for the spring spawn and the bite has slowed somewhat, but expect it to pick back up after the bass have come off the beds.”  Wade also has some tips on the best lures and best strategies to use.  “Some of the popular lures are small diving lures such as Rapalas and Fat Raps.  Also popular are plastic worms in June Bug and Green Pumpkin (colors).  When fishing diving type lures try to parallel the shoreline and make long casts. Start with the shallow diving lures then deeper lures as you progress out from the shoreline.  A favorite tactic is to cast as close to the shore as possible and retrieve with a jerking motion.  If you pick up grass during the retrieve then move out from the shoreline until you clear the grass beds or until you reach the point of fish activity.  When using plastic worms or lizards try using them weightless and slow it down.  It takes longer for them to reach the target area this way but the fish seem to like them better.  Early morning and late evening are the best times.  Toward the middle of the day and as summer arrives start moving away from the shoreline and target drop off areas, humps and underwater structure.”  As far as size of fish you should expect to catch Wade offers this insight.  “On average I catch a keeper (14 or longer) for every six or seven fish landed.”

Area Regulations

(You can pick up information sheets at the entrance but here are some basics.)

Boats with gasoline powered motors are allowed on Lakes Fox and Bennett but can be used at idle speed only.  Gas motors are allowed on the other ponds but may not be used to propel the boat.  All boats must carry the required safety equipment including appropriate personal flotation devices and all boats must be registered.

Fishing is allowed from sunrise to sunset.

No alcohol – No Swimming – Pets must be on leash – Vehicles stay on improved roads – Do not block gates.

Daily Limits

Largemouth Bass (5) – Must be 14 inches or longer

Hybrid Bass (5)

Channel Catfish (5)

Bream including Bluegill and Red-Ear Sunfish (15)

Black Crappie (15)

Other Available Activities

The Charlie Elliot Outdoor Center is definitely worth the time to visit.  It contains interesting displays, game mountings, books, videos and a wealth of information on Charlie Elliot’s life.  There are outdoor discovery programs for kids and summer day camps as well as overnight camps offered during the summer.  There are also hiking trails and trails for horseback riding.  Another idea is to just get a map of the place and drive around to all the different lakes and take in the beauty of this wonderful place.

If you are looking for a pleasurable day away from traffic, noise and the frantic pace at which we live you will find it in this little corner of the world.  I highly recommend it.

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